Before this review, I only knew Haglöfs by name and the shoe is my first experience with the brand. The vision of the Swedish company Haglöfs is to make quality products for outdoor enthusiasts who want to defy the elements, but products that also appeal to ‘the ordinary man’ who does not necessarily want to go out with minus 20 degrees or in the pouring rain. That vision is translated in the shoe, that looks rather like a sports shoe than a hiking shoe and I was skeptical when I opened the box. ‘Is it firm enough? Will my feet stay dry when cross a river?’
I tested the Haglöfs Observe GTX Surround shoe in Summer and Autumn during multi-day trips in the Ardennes, in the Netherlands during hikes and during urban walks.
The Observe is a low model shoe made of synthetic material, surrounded with Gore-Tex, which is known to be waterproof, windproof, breathable and lightweight. The shoe is available for both women and men and is really lightweight: a pair of women’s shoes weighs only 300 grams. Ortholite® technology has been used for the insole. This makes the shoe breathe well and it maintains the supporting properties, even when using long-term. The (outer) sole is made of rubber with gel and is reinforced at the heel for more stability on uneven surfaces. To protect the toes, the shoe on the front is also reinforced. It is a category A shoe: suitable for walks over gently sloping terrain.
The first pair of shoes I received is a size 41. That’s the size I always have, whether I wear casual shoes, walking shoes or pumps. The Observe is quite small so I had to order a bigger size.
Wear and comfort
I hardly feel that I’m wearing the shoes. Certainly uphill, when it is already a bit heavier, this is an advantage. On really hot days my feet remained dry despite sweating. I never got blisters when using these shoes. The material is light and because it is made of Gore-Tex, it is wind and waterproof.
Of course I wanted to test the waterproofness and not only during rainy days. It is always a bit exiting whether you can cross the river without getting wet feet. That is a risk with low shoes anyway, so I have chosen a shallow point in the river to check it out. The tongue is attached to the shoe on both sides, so there is really no way the water can enter and the shoes have definitely passed the test.
The outside of the sole is smooth, but sturdy and the toes are made of a heavier material, useful when you hit stones on the trail.
The insole gives a lot of support without feeling uncomfortable. I always use seprate insoles in my walking shoes. I have tested the Observe without these insoles, thinking I could use them if necessary, but there was no need to. In the past 3 months when I used the shoe almost daily, the sole continued to support very well.
The shoe looks like a sports shoe, which makes it also easy to put on when I go into town. The ladies version is available in 2 colors: augbergine and blue. Men can choose from black, blue or black with orange.
- flexible material, comfortable
- wind and waterproof
- great support
- breathing material
The Observe is a versatile shoe, it’s is really lightweight and ventilates well, making it a very good coice for those warm days. The are no negative things I can say about the shoe. If I have to mention something, the only thing I can think of is that the shoe is quite small. The ladies version is available from size 36 2/3 – 42 (size 42 is the same as a size 41 of my other shoes). So if you have slightly larger feet as a lady, you end up with a men’s model. The men’s model is available in size 40 – 48.